Swiss citizens will be able to legally change their gender through a visit to the civil registry office, without requirements such as hormone therapy or medical diagnosis, from January 1st, putting the country at the forefront of the European movement for gender self-identification.
Thus, Switzerland joins countries like Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and Norway, some of the only ones on the continent that allow a person to legally change their gender without bureaucratic procedures that can delay and hinder the right to gender identity.
Anyone aged 16 or over who is not under the legal guardianship of family members can change their gender and name by means of self-declaration, in accordance with the new rules written in the Swiss Civil Code. Younger citizens and those under adult guardianship will need to provide consent from the legal guardian.
The change alters and facilitates the current set of national requirements in Switzerland for a person to change gender. So far, it is necessary to present a certificate from a medical professional confirming that the individual is transgender, for example.
Some semi-autonomous regions of the country also require the person to undergo hormonal treatment or even sexual readjustment surgeries so that they can change their gender. In order to change the name, it is even required to prove that it is already used in the person’s daily life so that it can be registered in the documents.
The movement to facilitate self-identification, however, does not change the gender options available at the time of registration, which continue to be the traditional male and female. Two motions in the country’s parliament, however, attempt to introduce a third genre or even eliminate the field altogether.
Traditionally known as a conservative society, in September Switzerland legalized same-sex marriage and the right of gay couples to adopt children. The country was one of the last in Western Europe to secure both rights.
With the new rules that take effect on January 1, the country joins about 20 other nations around the world that dissociate gender identity from medical procedures. Although some European countries, such as Denmark, Greece and France, have removed the requirement for medical treatment, nationally applied rules still require steps other than just going to the registry.
In June, Spain also passed a bill that would allow anyone over the age of 14 to change gender legally without medical diagnosis or hormone therapy. Years earlier, in 2018, Germany became the first European state to introduce a third gender into birth registration —the “diverse” option—but, in 2021, it rejected two bills aimed at facilitating self-identification.